Young, Scared, and Taking a Stand

This was a summer to de-stress. The woes of high school are over, and the coming months bring a new adventure into my midst. Truly between the East of my youth and the West of my future, I decided that the best place to spend my summer would be a place where I would be closed off from the outside world, where apathy and a desire to hold onto our youth trump the need to figure things out: Jewish summer camp.

Being here did just that; comforting homesick children and cheering loudly at meals blocked out the happenings of all that exists beyond this small peninsula. Alerts flooded my phone with constant news updates, but for the first time I found myself turning them off to spend the afternoon hiking and making apple tea. Life is good here, and nothing else matters.

Everything changed the morning of July 15th, when I groggily woke up and reached for my phone under my pillow. I had five news notifications, each with breaking headlines reading that a nuclear deal had been reached between Iran and the P5 +1.

I couldn’t believe it. Enraged, I threw off my blanket and ran outside of my cabin, trying to find someone to share my anger with. How could America do this? For the first time all summer, the apathy I had grown accustomed to had vanished, with true fear taking its place.

Next year I will spend nine months in Israel, learning, exploring, and making the most of my gap year before I go to college. I imagine myself strolling through the bustling markets of Jerusalem, meeting new people in the streets and living as carefree as possible.

But now there is a dark cloud in my dream-like vision. I remember the rocket fire from last year into Israel from Gaza, and the stories of my friends who spent days in bomb shelters hiding. They should have been above ground discovering our homeland. I feel the panic and worry, the existential fear that is quintessentially Israeli attaching itself to my thoughts.

Because next year, that could be me hiding underground, fearing for my life. My time in Israel could be comprised of bomb shelters instead of falafel stands, red alerts instead of long days at the beach.

With Iran’s billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it will be able to continue to sponsor terrorist organizations that perpetuate suffering all over the world. With the sanctions relief comes more rockets. With the sanctions relief comes more violence. With the sanctions relief comes more fear.

When our government officials insist that this deal is “good enough”, I think of the panic felt by mothers in Southern Israel when the red alerts sound while their children are out of the house. I feel for the soldiers my age, who watch rockets fire into their hometowns and are told to use restraint in retaliation, even as they see the streets they know and love in shambles. I think of the absolute terror that the tunnels found from Gaza into Israel would have caused had they not been discovered, and wonder why we would allow Iran sanctions relief and to continue even a small part of their nuclear program when the country sets proxies that destabilize countries and illicit terror onto mothers and fathers, children and grandparents, friends and family.

This summer I spent most of my time running after sunburned kids, most of whom felt as if the biggest crisis going on in their lives was not being able to find a Shabbat date. I smile at their youth, but part of me cringes knowing that we might be putting them in danger in the future.

I watch my twelve-year-old campers begrudgingly practicing for their bat mitzvahs and talking over the daily “Hatikvah,” and I hope that they will continue to live in a world where they can take Israel’s existence and security for granted. I wish that they never feel like it is too dangerous to travel to their homeland, and that it will always remain a place they can see themselves visiting.

I see eight-year-old girls running around, giggling as they skid on the rocks and break their flip flops. They don’t know the kind of world they may inherit in just a few years. They don’t feel fear in any form, and I pray that it continues to be that way.

Time is ticking. My eight weeks here at camp are coming to an end, and with that comes a call to action. In September, Congress will vote on the Iran deal, and this is our only chance to make our voices heard in protest of this agreement. I, as well as any American who opposes this deal, must send letters, make phone calls, and pay visits to our representatives regularly in the next month in order to show Congress just how much we disapprove of this deal.

Being eighteen-years-old, I have just obtained the right to vote. The current representatives in office have not been elected by me, but their longevity in office depends on my future approval. I speak out as an American citizen who does not want to see any more lives lost to terror, any more children growing up in fear. I am the next generation, and I refuse to stand by and continue to elect representatives that will give Iran the tools it needs to expand its support for global terrorism.

Why act?

Do it for the people all over the globe that live in constant fear of attack by terrorist groups fueled by Iran. Do it for the soldiers around the world that are tired of defending their civilians from Iran’s threats. Do it for the children who grew up in bomb shelters, who want nothing more than to play outside without fear of rocket attacks. Do it for the mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, sisters and brothers, who spend their days at the mall and at work, at school and at the movie theaters, who are living without real fear and should be able to continue to do so. Do it so that our children will not have to acquire a world much worse than the one we were given.

Do it because with your voice, we are stronger.

About the Author
Rachel is an avid Zionist and travel enthusiast.
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